Gareth Southgate has plenty to mull over as the England manager selects his World Cup squad.
Monday’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Germany brought the curtain down on a challenging Nations League campaign that saw them relegated with a game to spare.
Now all attention turns to the World Cup and the PA news agency has analysed the options for the 26-man squad heading to Qatar.
On the plane: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle) and Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Hoping for a late ticket: Dean Henderson (Nottingham Forest, on loan from Manchester United)
Pickford has been number one since the 2018 edition in Russia and is sure to be between the sticks this winter.
Absent from this month’s fixtures due to injury, Pope deputised but did not look confident with the ball at his feet and was culpable for Germany’s late leveller on Monday.
But Pope – part of the 2018 World Cup squad and absent from the Euros through injury – is a good squad player and looks set to join Ramsdale in the three-strong goalkeeper group.
On the plane: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle) and Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
In the departure lounge: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Everton, on loan from Wolves), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace) and Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan)
Hoping for a late ticket: James Justin (Leicester), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace), Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton) and Ben White (Arsenal)
Maguire endured another challenging evening on Monday but has always retained the faith of Southgate. It would be a shock to see that change before Qatar but his game time and form at Manchester United is a concern. The same goes for team-mate Shaw, although his fine performance against Germany delighted Southgate.
Stones, James and Walker look shoo-ins, with World Cup semi-final goalscorer Trippier a versatile, trusted option. Dier started both matches as he won his first caps since November 2020 and impressed Southgate with the way he slotted straight back in.
Chilwell needs a strong build-up to the tournament and Alexander-Arnold’s eye-catching omission from the matchday squad on Monday raised fresh questions about his place.
Tomori was also left out and it will be interesting to see how Southgate selects his centre-backs, with Coady and Guehi among other options as he works towards a five-man backline in Qatar.
On the plane: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea) and Declan Rice (West Ham)
In the departure lounge: Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City) and James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Hoping for a late ticket: Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jesse Lingard (Nottingham Forest) and Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)
Bellingham underlined his status as one of the most exciting talents in the world with a pair of encouraging displays alongside Rice this month. The duo are sure to be selected, as are Henderson and Mount if fitness permits.
Phillips – England’s men’s player of the year for 2020-21 – is a major doubt to make the tournament, with his lack of game-time at new club Manchester City compounded by recent shoulder surgery.
Southgate acknowledged England have a “slight lack of depth in the middle of midfield” and Ward-Prowse, who just missed out on the Euro 2020 squad, will be hoping to get the nod for the 26-man squad.
On the plane: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) and Raheem Sterling (Chelsea)
In the departure lounge: Tammy Abraham (Roma) and Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Hoping for a late ticket: Patrick Bamford (Leeds), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), Ivan Toney (Brentford) and Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)
Record-chasing captain Kane will lead the side to the World Cup, where Euro 2020 star Sterling will hope to be play an important role once more.
Foden joined the pair in attack for both of September’s matches and will be on the plane to Qatar, as will Saka and Grealish. Abraham has yet to translate his Roma form to the national set-up but looks most likely to be Kane’s back-up.
Rashford was unavailable this month due to injury but continued strong performances for United could see him included. Team-mate Sancho’s chances look less certain and Toney will be relying on injuries to be involved having not made his debut following his maiden call-up. Bowen is another facing the prospect of just missing out.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe